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Ravens offense continues to struggle in division loss to Steelers

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Ravens offense continues to struggle in division loss to Steelers

BALTIMORE -- The Pittsburgh Steelers finally got their offense running. The wait continues for the Baltimore Ravens.

Le'Veon Bell rushed for 144 yards and two touchdowns, and the Steelers beat the Ravens 26-9 on Sunday in a duel for first place in the AFC North.

Though held to a touchdown over the final 30 minutes, Pittsburgh (3-1) mounted enough of an attack before halftime to earn its first win in Baltimore since 2012.


"Not a perfect game, but a great team effort by us," coach Mike Tomlin said. "We're moving in the right directions in a lot of areas: run game development, taking care of the football."

Coming into the game, Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was asked to identify the problem with a Pittsburgh offense that had produced only six touchdowns in 12 quarters.

"The quarterback needs to play better," he said.

Roethlisberger went 18 for 30 for 216 yards and a touchdown. He threw one interception, but it was on a deflection that required a replay reversal.

"I still feel I personally didn't make all the plays," Roethlisberger said. "My goal this week was to take what they give us, don't turn the ball over, and punting isn't a bad thing. And I thought we did a pretty good job of that."

Bell carried 35 times to help the Steelers amass 381 yards in offense.

After being held to 61 yards in an overtime loss to Chicago last week, Bell ripped through the Ravens for huge chunks of yardage.

"He's the best and his numbers weren't showing it," Pittsburgh center Maurkice Pouncey said. "There's been a lot of pressure on him to go out there and produce at a high level, and we're real happy he did it."

The Ravens (2-2), meanwhile, looked every bit like the 32nd-ranked offense in the NFL. Baltimore trailed 19-0 at halftime, generated only 154 yards through three quarters and stumbled through a second straight game with only one touchdown.


Joe Flacco completed 31 of 49 passes for 235 yards, was sacked four times and intercepted twice.

"It starts with me," Flacco said. "I wasn't good enough to get us back in the game."

Baltimore closed to 19-3 in the third quarter after an interception by Ravens safety Eric Weddle. The turnover occurred only after a challenge by Baltimore coach John Harbaugh overturned the original ruling of a catch and a tackle.

After Pittsburgh's Chris Boswell missed a 44-yard field goal, Alex Collins promptly ran for 50 yards to set up a 16-yard touchdown pass from Flacco to Mike Wallace. The Ravens went for 2, made it, then lost the points after a replay showed Terrance West's elbow hit the ground before the ball made it to the end zone.

In the fourth quarter, on a fourth-and-12 from the Pittsburgh 47, Flacco was picked off by Mike Hilton with 5 minutes left, launching a rapid exit by many of the fans.

That led to Bell's second 1-yard touchdown run with 2:26 to go.

The Steelers' first drive of the game covered 84 yards, lasted nearly 10 minutes and ended with a 30-yard field goal.

"That first drive where we went down and put points on the board, that was a good start for us," receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster said.

It got a whole lot better for Pittsburgh.

Boswell made it 6-0 with a 49-yarder midway through the second quarter after Roethlisberger connected with Smith-Schuster for 19 yards on a third-down play.

A fumble by Collins set up a touchdown run by Bell, and Roethlisberger threw an 11-yard TD pass to Smith-Schuster for a 19-point cushion.

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Ravens sign Crabtree to three-year deal

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Ravens sign Crabtree to three-year deal

The Baltimore Ravens have signed WR Michael Crabtree to a three-year deal on Friday according to general manager and executive vice president Ozzie Newsome.

The deal is apparently worth $21 million, according to Adam Shefter.

After being released by the Raiders Thursday following the signing of Jordy Nelson, Crabtree heads to the Ravens less than 24 hours later.


The 31-year-old is coming off a 2017 season when he recorded 58 receptions for 618 yards and eight touchdowns. In 2016 he posted 89 receptions for 1,003 yards and eight touchdowns.

Since 2015, the Texas Tech product has scored 25 receiving touchdowns, the fifth-most in the NFL. Crabtree and Steelers WR Antonio Brown are the only NFL players to post at least eight touchdown catches in each of the past three seasons.


In all, Crabtree has played nine NFL seasons – six of them with San Francisco (2009-14) and three with Oakland (2015-17). The former first-round draft pick (10th overall, Texas Tech) has registered 579 receptions for 6,870 yards (11.9 avg.) and 51 touchdowns in 125 career games (122 starts).

“Michael has played very well against the Ravens, so we know firsthand the attributes he brings to the game,” Newsome said in a team statement. “He is a smart, tough, physical receiver who battles for the ball. We like his temperament and believe he is a good fit for our football team, on and off the field.”

Since he entered the NFL in 2009, Crabtree’s 51 receiving scores rank 10th among active wide receivers, while his receptions (579) are seventh, and his receiving yards (6,870) are 12th.

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Ryan Grant's health issue and why the Ravens couldn't control voiding his contract

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Ryan Grant's health issue and why the Ravens couldn't control voiding his contract

The most obvious move in the NFL this offseason was the Ravens signing a new wide receiver (or three). It was less obvious why the team decided to commit so much money to former Redskins receiver Ryan Grant.

Grant has long been beloved by his coaches and teammates, but the results have never been there on game day. He has some potential to improve if given a larger role in a team's offense, which he likely would have had in Baltimore, but it never made much sense to offer him a 4-year contract worth nearly 30 million, with $14.5 million guaranteed.

Thankfully for fans who were uninspired by the reported agreement, Grant was unable to pass his physical and will not be joining the team.


At a press conference Friday morning, GM Ozzie Newsome called the void a "medical decision" that Newsome had no control over. 

NFL insider Ian Rapoport reported that Grant is recovering from a Grade 2 sprained ankle that would need two months rest.

You have to feel for Grant, who by all accounts has worked his tail off for many years just waiting for his chance. It's never easy missing out on nearly $15 million dollars guaranteed, but Grant should be able to find work with another team.

The timing of this news, coming so soon after former Raider Michael Crabtree became available, seemed fishy to some.

At Friday's press conference, Newsome also said the team would have still pursued Crabtree if they signed Grant. 

It's probably not fair to suggest that an NFL franchise would actually so publicly back out of a deal just because another option came along, as any team with that reputation would struggle to attract future free agents. That said, it could end up working out splendidly for the team.

Besides, if all else is equal, shouldn't a team located in Baltimore be going after a guy named CRABtree?